Living With Hypothyroidism
Including the most common causes, and treatments, both clinical and natural.
If you have been diagnosed with hypothyroidism, or feel that you may have it, you are probably looking for some information.
This article contains a fairly thorough description of hypothyroidism, the most common, causes of hypothyroidism, treatments for hypothyroidism, as well as clinical and natural remedies.
The information in this article is not intended to treat diagnose or cure any disease or illness, this article is for the sole purposes of spreading information on how to live with the condition.
May this information find you well, and if you have any recommendations or suggestions please let me know.
Look: Hypothyroidism can be intense, and even scary at times, but rest assured, many people have been working to solve this issue for a long time. There is actually a surprising amount of things you can do to improve your quality of life.
Don’t fall asleep too soon! We have a ways to go,
What is the Thyroid Gland?
To understand what hypothyroidism is and how to approach it, first it is important to know what the thyroid gland is and what it does.
The thyroid gland, is a butterfly shaped endocrine gland which is located at the front of the windpipe, near the front of the neck. The thyroid is made up of 2 main lobes.
The cartilage above the thyroid is called the thyroid cartilage. The thyroid cartilage is the largest cartilage in the body. It makes up the larynx, or the voice box. In men the thyroid cartilage is what forms the Adam’s Apple.
Functions of the Thyroid Gland.
The thyroid gland produces hormones which are then secreted into the blood. From the blood, they are carried into every tissue in the body. The thyroid performs a wide variety of regulatory tasks from keeping the body warm to metabolizing energy, and it also regulates other functions of the heart, brain and other organs.
Hormones Produced in the Thyroid.
There are 5 hormones produced in the thyroid:
- T3 (Triiodothyronine)
- T4 (Thyroxine)
T1, T2, T3 and T4 are so named for the number of iodine atoms each hormone contains. T1 contains one atom of iodine, T2 having two atoms of iodine, T3 having three and T4, you guessed it, having four atoms of iodine. The functions of T1 and T2 are largely unknown. The two main hormones T3 and T4 regulate metabolism, heart rate, and body temperature. T3 and T4 levels are used to diagnose hypothyroidism.
Calcitonin is also produced in the thyroid and is in charge of regulating the level of phosphate and calcium in the blood. For the purposes of hypothyroidism T3 and T4 are the only hormones we will focus on.
Here’s the thing, T4 is the inactive, or storage form of thyroid hormone and can be converted to T3 by other parts of the body. T4 is not capable of penetrating cell walls. For that, T4 must give up an iodine atom and become T3.
T3 has the ability to enter the cells and perform functions inside of the actual cell. When a part of the body needs T3, it sends a signal, and this begins the conversion process. The conversion process is carried out primarily in the brain, thyroid, skeletal muscle, the gut, the liver and the brain. When too little T3 is entering the cells in the body, hypothyroidism occurs.
In a simplified view, getting enough T3 in your cells would reverse hypothyroidism, however this is not as easy as it may appear. Hypothyroidism can have many causes.
How Does T4 Convert to T3?
Once the call for T3 has been received, the body begins the conversion process. This process utilizes an enzyme called deiodinase. In order for this enzyme to be produced, your body needs selenium, zinc, and iron. This enzyme simply removes one iodine atom from the outside of T4. Once the atom is removed, the hormone formerly known as T4 (now T3) goes to where it’s needed and performs its functions.
How Does T3 enter the Cell?
But that’s not all! Now that the hormone formerly known as T4 is at the cell wall we will need some cortisol in entering the cell membrane. Some doctors recommend testing cortisol levels in cases of hypothyroidism. One more cause of hypothyroidism is hypocortisolism:
“Since hypocortisolism, if present, needs to be rectified prior to initiating thyroid hormone replacement.” – Source
Inside the Cell-
Once T3 has finished its long journey around the body and actually enter the cell, it is ready for action. Inside the cell, T3 will help to aid in the metabolism of glucose, a process carried out by the mitochondria. Mitochondria are known as the powerhouse of the cell, and convert glucose and oxygen into energy. These tiny parts of the cell, work collectively on a large scale using T3 to regulate heart rate, body temperature, weight regulation and overall functions of the body.
If the mitochondria are too active, because too much T3 is being converted the microscopic actions of many thousands of mitochondria will raise the heat of the body. If too little T hormone is present then your body temperature will decrease, due to the decrease in the energy being metabolized.
Yep, there is still another one. During the conversion process of T4 into T3 an iodine atom is removed from the outside. However if the atom is removed from the inside of the structure it becomes Reverse T3. Reverse T3, like T4, is inactive and performs no direct function. What it does do is attach to the receptors of T3 in the cell, and blocks T3 from attaching to the receptors. This hormone is by the body used to slow down the functions of T3. It works as a kind of brake to T3s functions. In cases of hypothyroidism, according to some doctors you should test levels of Reverse T3 to ensure that these levels are at a healthy level.
Simulators of Reverse T3 Production
- Heavy metals- among the many naughty things heavy metals do to the body is stimulating Reverse T3 production. Particularly; lead, cadmium, mercury and arsenic are responsible for these actions.
- Over Exercise- this can stress out the body and can cause many imbalances in the body, including Reverse T3.
- Starvation- malnutrition and stress related to starvation can cause overproduction of T3.
- Stress- Like many other hormones, T3 is affected by stress.
Other Hormones associated with the Thyroid
Most people don’t know this, but in order to produce those 5 hormones the thyroid relies on several other hormones from other systems in the body. The thyroid requires direction. Thyroid hormone production starts in the hypothalamus. This gland is responsible for homeostasis, and is constantly measuring the levels of T hormones in the blood.
The hormone released from the hypothalamus is Thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH). TRH then travels to the pituitary gland and stimulates the release of Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) and a second hormone called prolactin.
Thyroid hormone secretion is regulated by TSH, that is released by the pituitary gland. When TSH finally reaches the thyroid it stimulates the production of the T3 and T4 hormones. TSH is also known as thyrotropin, thyrotropic hormone and human TSH
Hypothyroidism Caused By Thyroxine- Binding Globulin
Thyroxine- Binding Globulin (TBG) is the key binding protein which binds the T4 and T3 binds to. Too much TBG can bind to too much T hormone, and thus not enough can reach its intended destination. This is one of several causes of HT.
Two major causes of too much TBG;
- Estrogen Levels– In the modern age, we are bombarded with estrogens and estrogen mimickers. Both men and women are exposed to dangerous levels of estrogen on a daily basis. Estrogen and estrogen mimickers are in a wide range of plastics, and the chemicals that we utilize on a daily basis. It is even found in foods like tofu as phytoestrogens, and pesticides in agriculture. Shrimp and fish from the chemicals used to grow, preserve, and color them.
- Corticosteroid Levels- Medications known as corticosteroids will also interfere with your bodies ability to maintain proper TBG levels. These medications include cortisone, hydrocortisone, and prednisone.
Iodine and the hormone production in the thyroid
Iodine is an essential element for producing the hormones that the thyroid produces. When the TSH reaches the Thyroid, the thyroid pulls iodine and tyrosine (an amino acid) from the bloodstream. The tyrosine is then converted into thyroglobulin, and then attaches the iodine atoms to this converted amino acid.
Without iodine the thyroid literally can not function properly. Iodine is naturally occurring in seafoods, and plants grown in iodine rich soils. Iodine was added to salt in 1924 in the form of potassium iodide. Iodine can also be taken in the form of liquid supplements. Iodine deficiency is one of the largest causes of hypothyroidism.
What is Hypothyroidism?
Hypothyroidism simply put is an underactive thyroid. The thyroid has stopped producing the amount of hormones needed to regulate functions in the body. There are 3 classes of hypothyroidism: subclinical, overt, and central- more on each of those in the diagnosis section.
Top causes of hypothyroidism:
- Low TSH
- Low TRH
- Low T3
- Low cortisol
- Too much Reverse T3
- Too much TBG
There are many causes of hypothyroidism, and each one can require a different treatment.
Here’s the thing, most doctors don’t have the time to learn everything they need to about your particular condition, as such, their knowledge may be limited. That is why it is important you learn all you can about your own condition. it will not only help you, but also help your physician to alleviate your condition.
Symptoms of hypothyroidism-
The symptoms of hypothyroidism can easily be confused with many other illnesses, and as such may go misdiagnosed for years. The most common symptoms are feeling cold, weight gain, fatigue, irregular periods, and dry skin.
Hypothyroidism is diagnosed through blood work tests. The most common test, is done by testing for TSH in the blood. This is widely considered the best test as elevated levels of thyroid stimulating hormones can suggest that the thyroid is not producing enough hormones, or is not reacting to the TSH as expected. A second TSH test will often follow weeks later to confirm the diagnosis.
If the blood work reveals elevated TSH levels, often times the doctor will obtain the levels of free T4 is the blood. Free T4 is simply T4 that is free flowing in the blood, and not bound to any proteins. Testing for T3 is discouraged by the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE), but that does not mean it should not be. Once the T4 results are received, your healthcare provider may make a diagnosis.
Table of Test Results
|Normal Thyroid Function
Note that regular levels are not necessarily indicative of a healthy thyroid, as central hypothyroidism can occur even when TSH levels are normal.
As if that weren’t enough, other tests may be recommended by different physicians. For example mildly elevated levels of creatine kinase enzyme and liver enzymes in the bloodstream have also been attributed to hypothyroidism. Levels of these enzymes typically return to normal when the disease has been fully treated. There are several other pituitary hormones that should also be tested for in cases of overt and subclinical HT. This is specifically important, because when hypocortisolism is present, it should be treated prior to beginning thyroid hormone replacement.
Central Hypothyroidism (CH) is the condition of hypothyroidism caused by an underactive pituitary, or insufficient production of TSH. When TSH levels are in the normal to low range, but T4 levels are low, this an indication of possible central hypothyroidism. CH is caused by many different factors including brain trauma and autoimmune disease. The underlying causes of CH can vary greatly. More information on Central Hypothyroidism Here (should this be a link?)
Subclinical hypothyroidism is the grade of hypothyroidism that arises when T4 levels are normal, but TSH levels are elevated. This type of hypothyroidism can be caused by Hashimoto’s disease (a type of thyroid inflammation), thyroid hormone resistance, and other forms of thyroiditis (thyroid inflammation caused by autoimmune disorders).
According to PubMed subclinical hypothyroidism can evolve into clinical hypothyroidism if left untreated.
Overt hypothyroidism (OH) is the grade of HT that is diagnosed by elevated levels of TSH and low levels of T4.
Whether you have HT or not, it would be beneficial to know how to prevent it. The preventative measures you can take, will also likely alleviate the conditions you already face. One of the biggest ways to avoid HT is to maintain a healthy level of iodine in your diet. Childhood hypothyroidism was once endemic. This was largely eliminated by adding iodine to commonly used foods, such as table salt. Iodine deficiency is certainly the leading cause of HT and maintaining a healthy intake of iodine may help you avoid it.
But here’s the kicker, iodine deficiency is once again on the rise in the west as people intake less salt, and by people seeking to avoid processed food. Be aware of the amount of iodine that is in your diet and supplement if necessary. The American Thyroid Association has a recommendation of 150 micrograms of supplemental iodine daily.
Woman that are pregnant or breastfeeding require almost 67% more iodine than non pregnant women. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) pregnant and breastfeeding women are recommended to take 250 micrograms of iodine daily.
Though Iodine may be the main preventative, there may be several other ways to avoid Hypothyroidism in general:
- Getting an X-Ray? Ask for a thyroid collar- Each time you need to get an x-ray be sure to ask for a thyroid collar. This collar specifically protects the thyroid from x-ray radiation.
- Selenium is a Superfood for the Thyroid- Maintaining healthy levels of selenium can prevent thyroiditis and autoimmune diseases associated with some thyroid conditions. Selenium levels are also associated with reduced levels of thyroid antibodies. Brazil nuts are a rare food that is rich in selenium. Try adding them to your diet.
- Use Potassium Iodide- I can’t state this enough! Potassium iodide is essential to avoiding thyroid disorders. Potassium iodide can also reduce risks of disease in the thyroid from exposure to radiation.
- Avoid Fluoride- Fluoride in drinking water has been tied to hypothyroidism (among other things) and was once commonly used effectively as a treatment for hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid). This means it reduces thyroid activity, which is clearly not what you want to happen if you have hypothyroidism. Fluoride is contained in most bottled and city water. It is also contained in almost all toothpastes and mouthwashes.
- Avoid Soy! Soy is not as healthy as most people think. It can cause autoimmune responses in the body, which, if occurring frequently, can lead to a variety of autoimmune diseases, including hypothyroidism.
- Stop smoking – Yep, just another reason to quit smoking. As you well know, cigarettes are full of chemicals, and your body does not react well to them. Thiocyanate in particular is dangerous for the thyroid, and may trigger thyroid disease.
- Do your own Research! It can be all too easy to rely solely on the advice of your doctor, but they are low on time, and may not
have the time, or energy to learn all they can on the wide range of conditions they have to deal with on a daily basis. The internet is a great tool and there is a wellspring of information at your fingertips. Just be wise about your sources. There is a wealth of information to be found. This article is a good start.
Natural and Clinical Remedies for Hypothyroidism
Herbs With Thyroid Healing Properties
Ashwagandha, also known as Indian Ginseng, is an adaptogenic herb. It stands two to three feet tall, and produces green flowers which give way to orange berries.
One of the herbs of Ayurvedic medicine, Ashwagandha has a long history of use. It has been used to alleviate stress, boost the immune system, and promote sleep. Ashwagandha may be an effective herbal remedy for helping alleviate hypo and hyperthyroidism.
Aswagandha’s properties can balance hormone production of the thyroid. As an adaptogenic herb, Ashwagandha can balance hormones in an underffective,bactive thyroid, and has properties that can balance hormones in those with hyperthyroidism as well.
Ashwagandha has been proven to be able to stimulate the production of T4. In 2014, a study conducted of 60 patients suffering from bipolar disorder found that Ashwagandha increased production of T4 and stabilized levels of TSH.
Besides its ability to stimulate T4 production, scientists also believe that Ashwagandha can help those suffering from hyperthyroidism by alleviating inflammation, improving mood and its nervine (nerve protecting) properties.
Bacopa Monnieri, is an aquatic herb also known as Water Hyssop. Growing in all tropical and subtropical regions, it is mostly found in Asia. Bacopa is an Ayurvedic herb and was considered to be a tonic for the nerves and brain.
Despite many studies and a long history of use, the active compounds have yet to be found. This however should not diminish the results. Research has shown that it has the ability to regenerate tissue, has a positive effect on the brain, may improve memory, and may inhibit degeneration from Alzheimer’s disease.
A study on mice was held to test 3 herbs’ abilities to increase or decrease thyroid activity. It was found that Bacopa increased concentrations of T4 by 41%. This study shows that there is promise in using this herb in cases of hypothyroidism.
The ocean is calling!
More commonly known as Kelp, Bladderwrack may be beneficial to those with hypothyroidism. Commonly used to treat thyroid disorders in pill form, kelp is typically taken in capsule, at 600 mg per day with food and water.
Kelp has shown an ability to counteract the weight gain associated with hypothyroidism, by helping you to lose weight.
One thing is undeniable about kelp, and that is its high levels of Iodine. Kelp is one of the most abundant sources of natural iodine available. Iodine, as mentioned throughout this guide, is essential for proper thyroid function. However, iodine is only beneficial in preventing hypothyroidism, and in cases of hypothyroidism with iodine deficiency. Too much iodine can actually cause hypothyroidism.
Kelp can also alleviate inflammation in the thyroid through using a complex carbohydrate known as fucoidan. Fucoidan is a strong anti- inflammatory used in many medications, including those for broken bones and sore muscles.
Perhaps one of the better known herbs for HT, also known as Plectranthus barbatus, is a member of the mint family and has a long history in Asian medicine. Coleus has been shown to increase thyroid production and stimulates hormone release.The main compound found to be responsible for these effects is called forskolin.
Clinical research has shown that forskolin increases a protein called Cyclic AMP. Cyclic AMP is messenger protein which helps in regulating several processes in the body. Cyclic AMP also stimulates thyroid function by signaling to the pituitary and hypothalamus to release TRH and TSH. Increased levels of forskolin have also been found to increase fat loss among other things, including increased energy, decreased risk of blood clotting, relaxation of arteries, and inhibition of platelet activation.
Is a resin which is extracted from the bark of a tree called commiphora wightii, which grows in Northern Africa and Asia. This resin has compounds which have been shown to aid the thyroid gland.
A phytochemical called guggulsterone has been shown to improve thyroid function. A study published in a journal called Planta Medica, the 1984 study on rats, found that guggulsterone increased the thyroids ability to uptake iodine. The compound also enhanced thyroid peroxidase and protease.
Herbs to Alleviate Symptoms of Hypothyroidism
Turmeric is a yellow herb that is in the ginger family, and has healing benefits for a variety of issues. Traditionally used in Ayurvedic medicine, turmeric has an aspirin like compound called currcumin. Currcumin is a powerful anti-inflammatory that is also mildly pain relieving, and can prevent clotting in the blood by thinning it out. Turmeric is great for all around health and may make the lives of someone that is afflicted with hypothyroidism a bit less painful, until the thyroid hormones balance back out.
Dr. Izabella suggests that Turmeric can benefit those with Hashimoto’s. Inflammation is a condition that is always present in Hashimoto’s. Gut health permeability has been found as a common factor in all autoimmune diseases. There are also cases of Hashimoto’s caused by heavy metal toxicity. Not only does
Turmeric provide anti-inflammatory properties, it has been used to improve gut health for 1000’s of years, and may also help to detoxify heavy metals from the body.
Panax ginseng, or Korean ginseng is well known for its amazing benefits including boosting levels of energy, supporting the immune system and boosting overall health. Panax ginseng may improve the daily lives of those with hypothyroidism. Though no specific studies link Panax to stimulated thyroid hormone production at this time, it is thought to promote overall thyroid health, and may prevent hypothyroid disorders before they start.
Panax can help those with hypothyroidism by providing a boost in energy and
strengthening the overall body. This enables the body to deal with stress, and other immune disorders more efficiently.
St. John’s Wort
Depression and lack of motivation are often associated with hypothyroidism caused by a slowed metabolism. St. John’s Wort has a long history of helping people through rough times. St. John’s Wort has clinically proven in several studies to be as effective as several antidepressants when used in those with mild to moderate depression, and without the same side effects.
St. John’s Wort works by boosting serotonin production in the brain, and is very effective, but be aware of potential interactions with other medications, and the potential for serotonin syndrome.
Supplements and Thyroid Function
The most essential nutrient for thyroid function. More on Iodine here. Be mindful, too much Iodine can lead to worsening Hypothyroidism.
The thyroid contains more selenium than any other organ in the body, and it helps with hormone production. In the process of making thyroglobulin, a protein used in the production of T4, the thyroid produces free radicals. In order to counteract these free radicals two enzymes are required; thioredoxin and glutathione peroxidase. There enzymes require selenium to be produced. Your body produces over 25 of these enzymes using selenium. These enzymes are called selenoproteins. Three of these enzymes are required to activate T4, which is biologically inactive. One is used to turn T4 into T3. Some of these enzymes assist in brain functioning. There is no established dosage of selenium, but most doctors recommend 55 -100 mcgs. Many nutritionists naturopathic doctors feel that 200-300 mcg is better. More on establishing dosage here .
Folate/ Folic Acid
Contrary to common beliefs, there is no causative link between folate and hypothyroidism. There are however other risks that those with HT may have if they do not maintain proper levels of activated folate. In individuals with normal functions. folate, or folic acid is converted in the liver to L-methylfolate, which is the active folate form. Hypothyroidism causes a decrease in enzyme activity of
methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase, which is used in the liver to produce L-methylfolate. Low activated folate causes excess levels of homocysteine, which is linked to increased risk of heart disease in individuals with hypothyroidism. It may be beneficial.
Clinical Treatments for Hypothyroidism
Before Beginning Hormone Replacement Such as Levothyroxine, Desiccated
Thyroid or Cytomel:
I have said this twice already, but I don’t
want the point to be missed. According to an abstract from PubMed, patients with central hypothyroidism should have other pituitary hormone levels tested before beginning any hormone treatment, more specifically “assessment of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis”. This is because if hypocortisolism is present, it needs to be rectified before initiation of hormone treatment.
History of Levothyroxine.
Synthroid is a medication that comes in the form of levothyroxine (LT4) in sodium tablets that has been used since the early 20th century. Crystalline thyroxine (T) was first isolated by biochemist Calvin Kendall of the Mayo
Clinic in 1914.
In 1927, experimentation started with extracts from hog thyroids, when George Barger and Charles Harrington synthesized the hormone.
LT4 has been the second most used prescription for the last 10 years.
LT4 is a synthetic drug, that mimics the T4 hormone. With overt and central hypothyroidism, this drug works simply by replacing the hormones your body is not producing. Some doctors may prescribe T3 hormones as well. These come in the form of Cytomel. There is evidence that suggests LT4 and Cytomel should be taken together.
Interactions. There are medications and supplements that can worsen an underactive thyroid. Because of possible interactions Thyroid Advisor recommends taking LT4 four hours apart from any other drug or supplement to avoid taking away from the effects of LT4. Medications with the effect of lowering the effectiveness of LT4 include sodium polystyrene sulfonate, antacids, colestipol, iron, and calcium supplements.
Your doctor should provide a list of drugs, herbal medicine, and non-prescription products that may interact with LT4. Some of these include but are not limited to blood thinners, sucroferric oxyhydroxide and digoxin.
Side effects, Side effects with LT4 like most other medications do occur.
Hair loss. When you begin to take LT4, hair loss may occur as your body adjusts to the hormones, typically this is only temporary, but may also continue indefinitely.
Continued Effects of Hypothyroidism. If your body still struggles with low hormone levels after taking LT4, symptoms of hypothyroidism will likely still present themselves: sore muscles, weight gain, slowed heartbeat, fatigue, weight gain, etc.
Too Much Thyroid Hormone. Some instances of hyperthyroidism have occurred as a side effect of taking LT4. This happens when your body does not adjust properly to the higher levels of hormones in the body. Symptoms include; mood swings, headaches, shaking and sweating. More extreme conditions may occur that would require medical attention. These symptoms are swelling, chest pain, irregular heart beats and seizures.
History of Cytomel. Like T4 and Levothyroxine, the history of Cytomel began with the early discoveries of Calvin Kendall’s isolation of the T hormone in 1914. T3 was first discovered and synthesized in 1952 by Rosalind Pitt-Rivers and Jack Gross. They confirmed that this compound was more active than T and in 1956 the FDA approved liothyronine, synthetic T3.
How Cytomel Works. Just as LT4 works by replacing T4 levels in the thyroid, Cytomel simply works by replacing the missing T3 hormone in those afflicted with hypothyroidism.
There is a bit of controversy as to what the best drug for hypothyroidism is. Though the main of the medical industry finds that LT4 alone is sufficient for treating hypothyroidism, there is a debate as to whether Cytomel is better, or should be taken with LT4.
Though the body can normally convert T4 into T3, in those with hypothyroidism this may no longer be true. T3 is more active than T4, and may have a greater effect on those with hypothyroidism.
Interactions. Serious interactions can arise from medications that affect iodine in the body or radioactive iodine in general. More common interactions can occur with drugs such as blood thinners and others. Be sure to get a full list from your doctor. Cytomel can also interact with conditions like diabetes, seizures, thyrotoxicosis, adrenal insufficiency, and cardiovascular disease.
Side Effects, Like with LT4, hair loss can occur, but it is usually temporary while your body adjusts to the hormones. Other side effects are largely the same as with T4
Side effects largely arise from having thyroid hormone levels that are too high including headaches, mood changes, sensitivity to heat, diarrhea, menstrual changes, and increased sweating. Allergies do occasionally occur.
History of Desicatted Thyroid.
George Murray introduced the first recorded preparation of desiccated thyroid. One of his patients was suffering from Myxedema, a severe form of hypothyroidism. By making an extract of a sheep’s thyroid and pounding it into a powder, he was able to inject it into his patient.
The effect was not immediate, but her symptoms did soon disappear, and she continued treatment for 52 more years till passing at the age of 91.
His findings spurred a use in animal extracts to treat hypothyroidism around the world.
Because of the high cost of vaccines and the requirement of a doctors assistance to administer, soon manufacturers developed tablets of DT powder instead.
Sources of Dedicated Thyroid.
It is suspected that porcine (pig) derived DT is stronger than that of bovine (cow) or sheep. I however will insert my religious views here, touching the body of a dead pig, much less eating one is forbidden in any major religion, and is specifically advised against in Bible, Torah and Koran. It is my religious assertion that you should see if bovine or sheep DT works for you, and many people do.
Interactions and Side Effects.
As with any other medicine or supplements, be sure to consult with your healthcare provider, especially if you are taking medications. Side effects are largely similar to LT4 and Cytomel.
Most interactions that occur with other thyroid medications are caused by too much thyroid hormone.
Allergies do sometimes occur.
Lifestyle remedies for hypothyroidism
Grounding and Hypothyroidism
Perhaps you have heard about the important impacts of grounding, it may sound far fetched, but there is actually a wealth of studies backing the idea. For those that do not know grounding or earthing is the process of literally coming into contact with the Earth, I have written a very extensive article on grounding here. Our ancestors lived a much more grounded lifestyle in the past. Walking bare foot on the ground, spending time in the woods or garden. But along with many other things we have lost to technology, we have lost our connection to the Earth.
Here’s why it matters. The Earth is loaded with negative charges, and the atmosphere and the beings above it produce mostly positive charges. Like a car which needs to be grounded to start, so to do you need to ground your positive energy to be in tune with the Earth.
This is crazy right?
But it gets better. There is a wealth of data and studies that actually back this concept. Major studies held in controlled conditions have arrived to many astonishing. Tests have proved that being grounded can improve circulation, prevent clotting, improve moods and more. The earth acts like one giant pituitary gland, and improves our overall health and the balance of our bodies many functions.
So what does grounding have to do with your thyroid? Well apart from an overall improved homeostasis, research has showed that grounding at night can increase the levels of TSH, and free thryroxine.
Now you see what I am saying! For real grounding actually has very proven benefits. Check out my article for more studies and info.
Yoga and Hypothyroidism
Off the bat, no. Yoga doesn’t reverse hypothyroidism, but it has been found in two studies to help those with HT to alleviate their symptoms.
One study was done on 20 women with HT who attended 1 hour of yoga each day, for one month. Quality of life scores were taken before and after treatment. The result was a significant improvement in the quality of life, and the patient’s perceptions of their quality of life.
“It can be concluded that yoga is valuable in helping the hypothyroid patients to manage their disease-related symptoms.” Study here.
A second study was conducted, once again, on 20 patients. This study’s aim was to find the effect pranayama yoga had on the respiratory functions in people with hypothyroid disorders. Yoga was practiced 45 minutes a day for 6 months. The study concluded that pulmonary functions were improved at the end of the study. Study Here.
Stress and its Link to Thyroid Disorders.
Here we go again. Another reason to avoid stress is just what you needed right?
I know that it has been beat into our minds over the last few years, but it is particularly true that stress can cause disease in regards to the thyroid.
The adrenal glands are our “fight or flight” response system. The adrenal glands produce several key hormones namely adrenaline and cortisol. Our fight or flight response was designed to keep us out of danger, but constant stress feels the same as danger and causes the adrenals to constantly overproduce hormones. This constant gnawing, overproduction causes the adrenal glands to burn out. This “burning out” is known as Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome (AFS).
Currently, AFS is an epidemic, and is largely caused by the chronic stress of modern life. Yes. We have it easier than ever, yet stress is at an all time high. Much of this chronic stress is brought on by the lack of exercise associated with office work, the modern fast pace of society, and the inability to take a meaningful break with a computer in our pocket that never lets us forget.
So what’s the big deal, what does the adrenal gland have to do with hypothyroidism?
Here’s the thing, when the adrenal gland starts to experience AFS the amount of hormones it produces begin to lose touch with the body and its needs. By the time the adrenals reach stage four, or complete exhaustion, they are totally unable to produce adrenaline, cortisol, or other hormones. Even in the very early stages of AFS the production of these hormones does not align with our body’s needs.
As you may recall, cortisol is required in order for the T3 to pass through the membrane of the cell. So AFS can lead to hypocortisolism, and this, of course, would eventually lead to symptoms of HT. Fortunately, the adrenals are more forgiving than the thyroid, and reversing AFS is not an impossible task.
To avoid AFS, avoid stress by any means necessary. Perhaps one of the best ways to avoid stress without stressing out, is to practice mindfulness and meditation. Mindfulness will make you more in tune with your feelings and enable you to effectively avoid or cope with stress.
Stress and Diet
Some forms of stress aren’t external. Your body can be stressed out for a variety of internal reasons such as allergies, salt, lack of enzymes, etc. The list never seems to end. Recent evidence has arisen to show just how detrimental chronic irritation can be. Many of these studies are linked to chronic food allergies like gluten, or dairy. These foods can be a constant trigger to stress. These triggers have been found to cause a range of illness, AFS among them.
Another emerging concept is just how linked gut health and the brain are.
The gut has recently been described as the second brain. Not only do they look very similar, they are directly linked. Poor gut health has been linked to brain disorders like dementia, brain fog, memory loss and more. To avoid complications caused by poor gut health maintain a healthy diet by eating a wide range of fruits and veggies, and avoid heavy, hard to digest foods. Also maintain a healthy gut microbiome.
Not only do gut microbes fight off disease and infection, they aid the body in digestion and symbiotically produce chemicals that are good for your intestines and guts. Also, be certain to maintain a healthy intake of enzymes. Enzymes are crucial for the digestion of food. When you aren’t getting enzymes from food, your body most make them, and your body already has enough to do. Give your body a bit of a break and be sure to eat raw food often. Now you know why they say an apple a day keeps the doctor away.
check out Dr. Lam. Dr. Lam is perhaps one of the foremost doctors on the topic of AFS. He has an extensive database on AFS, how to avoid it, and how to alleviate its effects.
Why is Soy Dangerous?
Avoid Eating Soy Products
Especially if you have HT, eating soy is like playing with fire!
There is a lot of debate about the effect soy’s various compounds Most people believe that soy is harmless and even healthful. Perhaps, infrequent use of soy will not harm you, but, in general, it is dangerous to assume that daily soy consumption will not lead to health issues, especially if you are suffering from an autoimmune disease like hypothyroidism.
There are several compounds that raise concern with persistent intake of soy. The two most controversial of these compounds are protease (protein) enzyme inhibitors, phytoestrogens and goitrogens. Each of these could possibly raise concern, in particular, if you have hypothyroidism, or an autoimmune disease. Though there likely isn’t much to worry about with using soy products on occasion, there can certainly be complications that could arise from frequent use.
Phytoestrogens (PE) are plant based estrogens that cause a lot of controversy or should I say controverSOY. Most studies, however, suggest that there isn’t much of an effect from these estrogens in men or women, as these estrogen are much weaker than human estrogen. One study raises alarming concern, particularly if you are already afflicted with hypothyroidism.
It gets worse, this study on the effect of women with subclinical HT was made of 60 participants. Each of the participants took either the equivalent amount of phytoestrogen in the standard western diet (30g soy protein with 2 mg of PE), or the soy estrogen equivalent in a vegetarian diet (30g of soy with 16 mg of PE). After eight weeks the participants switched the dosages for 8 more weeks, after an 8 week wash period. It was found that the participants had a 3 fold chance of developing overt HT, as 6 women developed overt HT after the 16 mg PT intake period. To be clear the amount of soy required to intake 16 mg of PT daily is less than 3 ounces of tofu, or 2/3 a cup of soy milk. Take a look at the table below to see just how little soy is required to increase your risk of worsening HT.
Table of Phytoestrogen Levels in Soy Products
|Total PE (mg)
|Soy Protein, water based
Goitrogens are substances that interfere with iodine uptake in the thyroid, these trigger the pituitary gland to produce Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH). This stimulation increases production of the thyroid hormones? and can eventually lead to a goiter or thyroid growth. Though not directly linked to HT it is best not to interfere with thyroid hormones unnecessarily.
Protease inhibitors block enzymes produced in your pancreas from digesting the soy protein. This means your body must work harder to digest the soy. In healthy individuals that eat soy from time to time, this is likely not an issue, but constant intake of these inhibitors can certainly compromise the bodies health, especially in those already afflicted with autoimmune diseases like HT.
Soy is always touted as a health food, but many people believe it may be harmful. Though there is a lot to consider about soy consumption, one thing is certain, those with HT should not consume soy, or consume it as little as possible. All in all it is best to absolutely avoid soy in general, especially if you are dealing with HT. Find an alternative as its not worth the risk.
So, What’s The Point?
Hypothyroidism can be a real downer, and quite unbearable at times. However, that does not mean that there is nothing that can help. In fact there are many beneficial actions you can begin taking today in order to improve your life, whether or not you suffer from hypothyroidism. Don’t take it that this guide to be all there is. There is a wealth of information out there to help improve your life. This article will expand with time, so be sure to bookmark it, and visit often. There are many links embedded throughout the text to a whole wealth of information on the subject. One of the best sites I found while researching was Thyroid Advisor, they have a never ending well of information. That being said do your research with at grain of salt. If i missed anything or made any mistakes please let me know, and comment if you enjoyed the read.
For further reading one of the more popular books on the subject, and also a source of some of the information in this article is Amy Meyer’s The Thyroid Connection.
Stay Tuned for updates, and feel free to comment below. In the mean time check out this lovely song…
Until next time…